Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

The Tech Savvy Lawyer – Web Technologies And Legal Firms

June 2nd, 2020

The Legal Industry & Information Technology

Like all other industries, the legal industry is not insulated from the tremendous changes in information technology over the past decade, and the challenges and opportunities it presents. If anything, the changes have more bearing on law firms & departments because information management is at the core of what they do – consulting with clients, colleagues or experts; increasing compliance & regulation demands, wading through a constantly expanding sea of legislation and case law; managing outsourcing partners; keeping abreast with latest developments; or managing a mountain of matter files.

Recent Trends

Perhaps the most significant change in the legal services industry the decline of “relationship lawyering”.

Recent times have seen increased competition, & changes in underlying market structure. There has been a continuing trend of decline of “relationship lawyering”. Traditionally strong relationships between law firms and corporates are eroding, with more companies opting for in-house legal departments, or “shopping around” for the best deal. Another significant trend is the increasing convergence of legal markets, where competition is as likely to come from a firm in another state or overseas as from a local firm. These & other developments are exerting greater pressures on legal firms to be more efficient, an it is imperative that attorneys spend their time analyzing information, rather than organizing or managing it.

Drivers of Technology Adoption by Legal Firms

Possibilities of Technology – The primary driver of greater use of information technology by legal firms is developments in technology itself. New technologies & greater bandwidths allow great possibilities in the arenas of information management, productivity and remote collaboration. Information can be moved over the internet with greater security. And unlike yesteryear, law firms can access these technologies without hefty costs and the need to set up specialized IT departments.

In 2004, Forrester Research Inc estimated that some 39,000 legal jobs will have moved offshore by the end of 2008.

Outsourcing/Offhsoring – Legal firms are now increasingly open to legal process outsourcing of tasks they traditionally held close – research, transcription, coding and even legal research and the drafting of legal documents. It is commonplace to see a NY based law firm, subletting research work to a team of professional lawyers & paralegals in Bangalore, India. This enables firms to majorly cut down costs & concentrate on core legal functions. But it also necessitates a greater need to communicate, collaborate & monitor the functioning of outsourcing vendors hundreds or thousands of miles away. Security is also an issue, since performance of the services often requires access to regulated consumer data or other sensitive data.

In 2004, almost 60% of lawyers worked at multi-office firms and over 10% of lawyers work at firms with ten or more offices.

Geographic Diversification – As mentioned before, there is a distinct movement towards multiple office firms, with offices spread both nationally and globally. US based companies are now serving many foreign clients, or serving foreign interests of domestic clients. There was a significant presence of international clients in even the smallest law firms of 1 to 20 lawyers. There has also been a spate of global mergers and acquisitions of law firms in the new millennia. All this necessitates a greater need for communication, collaboration and information exchange between branches.

Regulatory Compliance – Since the Sarbanes Oxley Act came into effect, records management has become an essential requirement. Organizations are required by law to retain certain documents for predefined periods. Also, the amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect on December 1, 2006, and apply to any firm involved in litigation in the U.S. Federal Court system. The amendments mandate that companies be prepared for electronic discovery. Firms have to drastically alter the way they preserve, retrieve and produce electronic data.

Competition is coming both from firms spread across the nation & the globe, as well as consultants & advisors who were traditionally not considered part of the “legal industry”

Competition – Because of the death of relationship lawyering, and “one stop shopping” by clients, firms cannot afford to be complacent anymore. Moreover, competition is as likely to come from the opposite end of the country or globe, as from local companies. Competition is also coming from other quarters, consultants and advisors who offer services that were previously the purview of lawyers. In this arena of intense competition, lawyers have to double up as “rainmakers” ; networkers (legal business development) in addition to traditional roles.

IT Needs of the Legal Industry

Centralized Document Storage – The legal profession generates a tremendous amount of digital information in the form of case files, contracts, court filings, exhibits, evidence, briefs, agreements, bills, notes, records and other office activity such as email. This information is the firm’s collective knowledge & learning which sets it apart from competition and needs to be retrieved again and again. Compliance also requires certain documents to be stored & retrievable for extended periods of time. Attorneys across different offices need to access and collaborate on this information.

Family Lawyers and Legal Assistants As Front Line Crisis Responders Need Crisis Intervention Skills

March 17th, 2020

Steven Keeva reminds us in Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life that “[t]o the extent that you enter it as a calling, the practice of law is about hunger – the hunger for resolution; for healing the lives of individuals,… and communities; for enabling society to function harmoniously and productively; and ultimately, for justice.”

Family law attorneys are litigators within an often radically adversarial setting. Clients who seek us out find themselves deeply within the throes of wrenching emotional disequilibrium. Our training has conditioned us largely to believe that achieving the relative justice that client reactivity demands is our calling. The fact that we are able to command outrageous sums to assist our clients subtly reinforces a blindness to the more positive opportunities that our roles position us for. We may confuse a transcendent “hunger for resolution” with actualizing or even capitalizing upon our client’s stated aims for outcomes that are not at all transcendent for them.

Remembering that clients are uniformly in crisis – to such an extent that they will deposit with us large retainers borrowed on credit cards or from family members in amounts that parties not in divorce might never otherwise consider spending – is more a reflection of the participant’s distress than the fact of how “good’ a lawyer we are. This can seduce us into valuing ourselves more in terms of the fees we can demand and receive then those we earn or forego, or in admitting our obligation to guide clients responsibly, and in so doing “enabling society to function harmoniously and productively.” Each of us must decide for ourselves whether to pander to client reactivity. Like most symbiotic relationships, ironically, our fate as human beings who happen to be lawyers is dependent upon the experience of those we would serve. Understanding the effects of crisis, and the consequences of failing to address crisis constructively, offers one path to redemption for lawyers and clients. It offers a way out of the burn out that the crisis of dealing with people in crisis may cause.

For many people the experience of divorce is one of the most difficult and traumatic crises that they will ever encounter. With 50% of first marriages and 65% of second marriages in this country ending in divorce, it is also one of the most common. Feelings of fear, helplessness, confusion, inadequacy, anxiety, hurt, and exhaustion are normal. The failure to skillfully manage these feelings and to apply a solutions focused approach to resolving legal disputes can seriously impede a person’s wellbeing and present and future functioning within their families, at work, and in social relationships. The stress of relationship break up can destroy one’s health and make one feel almost insane at times.âEUR¨âEUR¨

Emotional difficulties emerge around all kinds of legal issues involving relationship and family break up. Mental Health Professionals have long observed that the crisis experience of people in divorce ranks at the top of the subjective Social Readjustment Rating Scales, second only to death of a spouse; indeed, the consequences of divorce may be more debilitating than the threat of a jail term or the death of a close family member. The experience of clients has profound implications not just for effective lawyering, but to the larger contributions lawyers may offer to people and society in general. Those contributions are what Keeva speaks to, and why most of us decided to become attorneys once upon a time, in a land that seems far, far away.

Lawyers are front line responders to crisis, but we don’t understand this role because nobody taught this to is – at best, we bump into this reality intuitively but then are at some loss to know what to do with it. Many attorneys claim they have no interest in dealing with their client’s emotions. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger famously criticized lawyer’s lack of technical experience with crisis, which has to some small extent changed law school training formats so that some schools teach therapeutic skills as well as legal skills. Yet, lawyers remain widely ignorant and disinterested in holistic interventions to help their clients. And, is this belief true? If we don’t want to deal with client emotions, family lawyers would be more productive forming corporations or defending insurance companies.

Attorneys and staff have frequent contact with individuals in crisis in family law settings. By recognizing and defusing intense feelings, points of view, and situations, they can help clients clarify priorities, link to other helping resources, and both lawyers and clients can become more efficient and goal oriented. âEUR¨âEUR¨In considering the role of attorneys, scholars and counselors have suggested that it properly includes empathy and guidance, resembling what crisis workers call “psychological first aid.” A three-step process has been designed to help attorneys facilitate disclosure of relevant information in order to formulate a strategy for providing help.

* Encouraging the client to express concerns and emotional reactions (this assists the client in describing the situation).
* Thorough empathetic listening enables attorneys to help clients acknowledge emotions
* After this, the attorney may begin to develop and verify problem-solving theories based upon what has been learned.

It is essential that attorneys help evaluate alternatives in dealing with the problem, and in order to accomplish this, attorneys need to actively listen and respond to these feelings rather than focusing merely upon the facts. The attorney’s role is to establish rapport (support must be developed and feelings explored before any real progress can be made). In order to handle cases efficiently, attorneys need to understand the motives, personality structure, and unconscious thoughts in order to ‘expose’ the unconscious material from what appears to be a confused client.âEUR¨âEUR¨

From a lawyer’s point of view, it is both practical and efficient in the long run to deal directly with the emotions which a client brings. The time saved sticking to the legal objective and objective legal facts is likely to be lost if the client confuses facts with feelings.

Counseling approaches that can be utilized by lawyers in helping clients in crisis situations include:

* Communicating effective concern
* Allowing the client to express feelings
* Exploring the precipitating event (that brings the client to the lawyer)
* Examining past coping efforts to similar problems
* Focusing on the immediate problem
* Helping the client develop a cognitive understanding of the problem
* Seeking practical solutions
* Structuring a plan for action
* Making appropriate referrals to mental health providers and others

In order to make psychological contact with clients:

* Both facts and feelings need to be addressed
* If feelings are ignored, it is very likely that the client will present facts poorly
* Clients in distress convey what they feel in
* What they say
* How they act
* What they do
* Attorneys should recognize the feelings verbally and then give the client the opportunity to respond

Lawyers function best at this stage. While listening we should consider how the event might have disrupted our client’s life and goals. We should listen to what the event (i.e., divorce, custody, move-away) means to the client. We should consider destructive propensities on the part of the client in response to the crisis.

Examining Possible Solutions

The simple fact is that a client who seeks out an attorney is attempting to cope with the crisis, a powerful first step. Lawyers need to know about available community resources (clergy, shelters, self-help groups, therapists). Because any given solution can seem to make sense at one moment or another, the lawyer should evaluate with the client different possible solutions.

It is imperative that over-eager lawyers not act too quickly. We as lawyers need to question our motives. We should encourage clients to do as much for themselves as they can. We should question the truth of the thought that our job ends with helping the client realize whatever goal they think will dispel the crisis, or that is it unseemly or unethical for us to act as examples and guides. Exactly the opposite is true.

Marketing, Promoting and Advertising Your Business

February 28th, 2020

One thing that goes without saying in today’s business world, is that regardless of the nature of your home based business, a website is an absolute MUST. Whether you have a product or service to sell, whether local or global, your business will go nowhere fast if you don’t have an online presence. If you need internet marketing help, you’ve landed on the right article. I’ll give you some home based business marketing ideas that will help you promote your business successfully.

The first step is choosing a domain name and getting it registered. You can build your own website (if you have the time) and host it yourself or you can have everything done by another company (if you have the money). Either way, you have many options and tools at your disposal that can align with your business plan and budget. Also note that you can still start your own home based business even if you don’t have a product or service to sell. There are thousands of individuals and companies that have products you can sell for them while earning a commission, called affiliate marketing.

Of the many business marketing strategies known to man, internet marketing is, hands down, the best strategy to use for promoting a home based business as it is the cheapest method and has the potential for reaching millions of people all over the globe. Driving traffic to your site through online resources is like killing two birds with one stone. You can tackle print advertising by writing articles and publishing them to directories and ezines and by submitting ads to the many available (and most of them free) classified ad sites. Online media advertising encompasses writing press releases and distributing them to press release sites. One of the biggest and most popular online advertising trends today is via social media advertising through sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn where you build relationships with your customers. Forums and communities are also great ways to build relationships which helps promote your home based business in the long run. Simply Google your market or industry with the word ‘forum’ or ‘community’ behind it and search for one or two that seem to be the best fit for you.

All of these methods of online advertising contribute to search engine optimization (SEO), which is to say improving your online visibility and escalating in the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Your goal is to claim the #1 spot in the organic search results (the results on the left, not the right side which are paid ads). This is where your traffic will come from. If you are 800 in the list of search results, no one is ever going to see your site because very few people have the time or patience to scroll through 800 search results. Research shows that people typically won’t even scroll past 4 or 5 search results, let alone 800.

Can you grasp the importance of internet marketing for any business? If you are new to the internet marketing phenomenon and don’t know exactly where to start, there are many great programs or systems online that walk you through every aspect of marketing your online business. A lot of these systems were created by online entrepreneurs who have spent thousands of their own dollars trying to figure it all out over the years and finally DID. Their sacrifices have made it easier for newbies to become successful at their own online home based business. If you are new to running your own home based business, I recommend you find a great system (do your research, read reviews, ask questions in forums) and start marketing your home business from there. Don’t waste the time and money that so many of us have in going it alone, without a proven system, as it will just set you back further and hinder your progress.